Is your cup half full or half empty?
This is a tough question and truthfully can vary from day to day. However, an attitude of thankfulness can make all the difference in our relationships. What we ponder on, reflect on in our families, our work places and friendships has a way of coming home to roost.
For example, consider the parent of a teenager who is messy. There are only so many times you can walk by that towel on the floor or see that cluttered room (you've asked them to clean 100 times) before you can only see that child as messy, unorganized and ungrateful. While yes, this behaviour needs to be dealt with, a thankful heart also balances that frustration with the knowledge that this same untidy child is at times polite, has some good friends, is active in his/her youth group or extra curricular activity and is trying to make good choices. When you add those factors it changes the whole scenario doesn't it?
Do you spend the day thinking about the vacation you can't afford or feeling thankful for the warm and safe home you return to each day? Do you focus on how uncreative your job is or on the thousands of people who would feel like getting your job was like winning the lottery? Just a simple change of thinking can make such a powerful impact on every day of your life and every single relationship you share.
I'm not suggesting we should just swallow our troubles, but thankfulness can change the whole attitude of one's heart making those troubles much easier to face. Why not try making a list of what you are thankful for today and see what changes.
For those of you who are Christians think on this: One of our reminders comes from the Bible in Philippians 4:8. "Finally, brothers (and sisters), whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.? What great advice.
Written By: Winnie Visser in collaboration with Sharon Osvald
Do you take your relationships for granted? It's very easy to do. Most of us get wrapped up in our day-to-day work schedules, chores, meal preparations, homework, children's events and let's not forget the all-consuming social media venues we try to keep up with. All these are worthy and necessary duties in our day, but when was the last time you praised your spouse or significant other for the job they did, rather than criticize them for what they didn't do? When was the last time you thanked your child(ren) for being who they are and for making your family what it is today?
Being intentional in our relationships creates stronger ties. In the flurry of our lifestyle we need to pause and take care of one another. How do you show caring behaviours to your spouse or friend? I'll never forget in one of my sessions an exasperated husband stated, "But I just brought her home chocolate!? The wife turned to me and just as exasperated said, "And how many times do I need to tell him that I'm allergic to chocolate?? Be aware of your spouse or friend's needs. Just because you might enjoy something, doesn't mean that they will. They may have opposite needs and that isn't wrong, it's just different. Extend grace to one another for each other's differences.
Intentionally, we can spend time, give a small gift, speak an affirming comment or give a warm embrace. When we do take care of our most precious relationships, we create positive, strengthened couples, families and communities. So often we hear the phrase, "It's now ?me' time? or "I'm taking time for me.? While yes, there are times we must individually pull back and recharge, being intentional about growing strong marriages, families and communities means looking for ways we can help and encourage the other. We become "other? orientated. Intentionally, we focus on others within our sphere of influence. If you are feeling distant from your spouse, plan a special time together rather than complaining about it. If you want to understand your teenager better, then be interested in his/her world - even if the activity doesn't interest you.
And finally, intentionally watch the words that come out of your mouth. Ask yourself, "If I say this will it build up my spouse, partner, child, family member or friend?? The greatest gift we can give one another is the gift of listening, affirming and asking for clarification before giving our opinion. Too often we assume what the other is thinking or wanting to say and cut them off. We react out of fear, or our own anxiety gets in the way, and we begin shouting or name-calling. These are not ways to build up our relationships, nor is it respectful.
In closing, relationships are not to be taken for granted. They are the very fabric of our society. We must intentionally take good care of them. If you are finding your relationships strained in any way, be that at home, at work or at school, it may be time to get some help from a trained relationship expert. Registered Marriage and Family Therapists have had unique relationship training to help your relationships become the best they can be. You can find out more about marriage and family therapists at www.oamft.on.ca.
Helping you intentionally look after your most precious relationships,
Winnie Visser M. Div, RMFT, Registered Marriage and Family Therapistwww.winnievissercounselling.com
Principles for Real Living:
I am responsible for my own attitude
My attitude affects my actions
I can not change others, but I can influence others
My emotions do not control my actions
Admitting my imperfections does not mean that I'm a failure
Love is the most powerful weapon for good in the world
Desperate Marriages by Gary Chapman, Northfield Publishing, Chicago 1998, 2008